Review Summary: Bjork reaches her magnum opus.
Once in a blue moon an album comes around that is just so grandiose and magnificently executed that you know that the artist behind it must be some sort of mad genius. Or you know its just Bjork.
Already having released a string of excellent albums from the electro-jazz, Debut
, the pop epic, Post
, and the trip-hop inspired, Homogenic
, all three of which showcase Bjork’s famous voice, and her ability to craft music that is so beautiful it touches all the human senses on so many levels. Amongst this trilogy of work (some of the best music of the 90’s) no one knew what direction Bjork would take next during the turn of the century, but a change on the horizon could be felt. This change came at full force with 2001’s Vespertine
, a record with so much heart and atmosphere, that it still to this day, stands as her best album yet.
sound change is best described by Bjork herself where she was quoted in an interview saying, “I was bored of big beats. I'd listened a lot of it…the most mental cut-up *** that you could find. [Vespertine
] is more electronic folk music, music for the home. It's corny to make a soundtrack for making a sandwich, but I quite like it. For so long I wanted to whisper. It was a watercolor as opposed to an oil.”
The album is so personal and organic, the listener cannot help but to get absorbed in the lush landscapes. Starting with the gorgeous opening song, “Hidden Place,” with its soft, spiraling electronic noises under Bjork’s fragile voice, to the concluding song, “Unison,” a 7-minute track that expands in its grand sound as it progresses, which essentially brings in all the album’s essence into one final moment of pure bliss.
While the tone of the album is essentially the same through out, each song sounds completely different from the other, partially due to the wonderful lyrics and the organic sounds gathered by Bjork. The album is like a body, constructed of several different parts but all flowing with the same blood. Some of the songs are built upon with recorded sounds like walking through fresh snow and the shuffling of cards, something that adds a completely new dimension to the albums winter setting.
Songs like “Pagan Poetry,” a dark love song with a beautiful break down, and the spacious, “Aurora,” serve as two of the biggest building blocks of the album as the two strongest tracks, though never overshadowing the lesser known tracks like “Sun In My Mouth” and “Heirloom.”
As Bjork’s longest album, she had a lot of room for error, but it never feels cramped and in fact has some of the best flow one could expect on an album, containing absolutely no filler. The interlude track “Frosti,” even sounds so necessary to the body that it just would not be the same with out it. While she took her most experimental approach with this album, tossing her pop image in place of a much more adult form, the results pay off. Vespertine
is and will remain her magnum opus even ten years later in the days of Biophilia.